Teacher Notes

Bible Stories for Adults

The Tower of Babel

Genesis 11

Welcome and Announcements
    Next Week - God Calls Abram (Genesis 12)
    Bible Words to Remember:
      So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. 1 Corinthians 10:31

Opening Prayer

Family Ties (Genesis 10)
    What humans were left after the flood to rebuild civilization?
      Genesis 8:18 = Noah, his wife, his 3 sons & their wives
    With all humanity descending from this small group, what is described after the flood story?
      Genesis 10:32 = How nations of the world arose from Noah's offspring

    Who descended from Noah's son Japheth? = Javan (Ionians - Greeks), Tiras (Thracians - Italy)
      Genesis 10:1-2 = Europe - Gomer (Britain), Magog (Russia), Madai (Medes - Persia),
    Where do we see that Japheth's descendants would stretch so far geographically?
      Genesis 9:27 = Blessing Noah gave to Japheth - May God extend the territory...

    Who descended from Noah's son Ham?
      Genesis 10:6 = Africa - Cush (Ethiopia), Mizraim (Egypt), Put (Lybia), Canaan
    What further details are we given that gives background for the Tower of Babel story?
      Genesis 10:8-12 = Nimrod conquered Babylonia, started race that likes to fight
    What other son of Ham was important to the Israelites?
      Genesis 10:15-19 = Canaan - Nations the Israelites had to conquer
    What had Noah said about the lineage from his son Ham?
      Genesis 10:25 = Cursed them to be slaves, - used in 1800s to justify black slavery

    Who descended from Noah's son Shem? = Lud (Lydia - Asia Minor), Aram (Arabia)
      Genesis 10:21-22 = Asia - Elam (east of Babylonia), Asshur (Assyria), Arphaxad,
    How did Arphaxad become important? = See also Genesis 11:10-14)
      Genesis 10:24 = Grandfather of Eber (Hebrew) - Ancestor to Hebrews (Israelites)

The Ziggurat of Shinar (Genesis 11:1-4)
    When does the Tower of Babel story take place?
      Genesis 11:1 = Within chapter 10, one language, about 30,000 people on earth
    Where did this story take place? = Show on map; Ruins are at Birs-Nimrud
      Genesis 11:2 = Shinar, Hebrew for Sumer (region of Babylonia); Iraq
    What did they decide to build?
      Genesis 11:4 = A ziggurat, stepped pyramid with temple on top, bridge to the gods
    What were the building materials? = Used for ordinary buildings, not temples TO God
      Genesis 11:3 = Brick & tar, man-made; inferior to God-made stone

Sin Number One (Genesis 11:4)
    What is the first reason that the people decided to build this ziggurat?
      Genesis 11:4 = Make a name for ourselves
    What sin were the people guilty of?
      Proverbs 29:23 = A man's pride brings him low, but humility gains honor
    What is pride?
      Funk & Wagnalls = An undue sense of one's superiority; arrogance; conceit
    When is pride okay?
      Galatians 6:14 = May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ

    Is it wrong to build a tower or tall building? = removed high places (temple towers to gods)
      2 Chronicles 14:2, 5, 7 = Asa did right, built towns with towers (not for idols)
    What kind of tower should we desire?
      Proverbs 18:10 = The name of the Lord is a strong tower...the righteous run to it

Sin Number Two (Genesis 11:4)
    What was the second purpose of building the ziggurat?
      Genesis 11:4 = We won't be scattered over the face of the whole earth
    How did this oppose the command God had given Noah?
      Genesis 9:1 = Be fruitful & increase in number and fill the earth

The Judgment (Genesis 11:5-8)
    How effectively were the people able to build a tower that reaches to the heavens?
      Genesis 11:5 = The Lord had to come down just to see it
    How did God respond when He saw what the people were doing?
      Genesis 11:6 = They will get out of control if they continue
    What was the danger of a unified humanity at this time?
      Deuteronomy 8:17 = You could say, I am prosperous by my own power & strength
    What did God do in judgment of this sin?
      Genesis 11:7-8 = Confused their language, scattered them over the earth

God's Place and Time (Genesis 11:9)
    Why is the Ziggurat of Shinar called the Tower of Babel?
      Genesis 11:9 = Called Babel because God confused the world's language
      Babilu - Akkadian for = Gate of God (Akkadian was language of area)
      balal - Hebrew for = to mix, to confuse
    When did all of this happen?
      Genesis 10:25 = During Peleg's life, 100-300 yrs after the flood (Gen 11:10-18)
    How random was this scattering?
      Acts 17:26-27 = God decided exact times and places for all people

The Grace (Genesis 12:1-3)
    How did God respond in grace to this incident? = Speak further next week
      Genesis 12:1-3 = He blessed Abram to be a blessing, all nations to be blessed
    How did the fulfillment of this grace give us an example for our lives?
      Philippians 2:5 = Your attitude should be the same as Jesus'
    How did Jesus' goals contrast with those of the Babylonians?
      Genesis 11:4 = Make a name for ourselves
      Philippians 2:6 = Did not consider equality with God something to be grasped
      Philippians 2:7 = Made himself nothing, became a servant
      Philippians 2:8 = Humbled himself, obedient to death, even as a criminal
    How did Jesus' rewards contrast with the Babylonians' judgment?
      Genesis 11:7-9 = Confused language, scattered them, humbled them
      Philippians 2:9 = Exalted to highest place, gave name above all names
      Philippians 2:10-11 = Every tongue confess, to the glory of God the Father

The Great Reversal (Colossians 3:11)
    When will this dispersion and separation be completely reversed?
      Revelation 7:9-10 = In the end, men from every nation & language in one voice
    Have we experienced any of this reversal yet?
      Colossians 3:11 = In Christ, there are no differences
    When did this begin?
      Acts 11:15-18 = When the Spirit came upon the early Christians - esp. Pentecost

Revelation and Unity from Dispersed Confusion (Acts 2)
    How did the command to God's new people in Christ contrast with that to His original people?
      Genesis 9:1 = God commanded to spread out and fill the earth
      Acts 1:4 = Jesus told His disciples to stay in Jerusalem
    How well did both groups follow their instructions?
      Genesis 11:4 = Built the tower so they wouldn't be scattered
      Acts 1:12, 14; 2:1 = Apostles returned to Jerusalem and stayed together there

    What names rallied the groups together?
      Genesis 11:4 = Their own; wanted to make a name for themselves
      Acts 1:21-22 = The name and person of Jesus

    Who tried to reach whom in each story?
      Genesis 11:4 = Men were trying to reach the gods (heavens)
      Acts 12:2-4 = God came down to man
    Who came to see what was going on?
      Genesis 11:5 = God came to see what man was doing
      Acts 2:5-6a = Man came to see God at Pentecost

    How were languages used to show the power of God?
      Genesis 11:6-7 = Scattered by different languages to dilute their power
      Acts 2:6-8 = God's power transcends language barriers and limitations
    How were the nations affected?
      Genesis 11:8 = Nations scattered from Babel
      Acts 2:9-11 = Every nation came together (see map)

    How did the understandings of each group differ?
      Genesis 11:3, 6 = Thought they had answers on their own
      Acts 2:12 = Couldn't understand on their own
    Did these understandings result in the groups being scattered or gathered?
      Genesis 11:9 = Broken apart by confusion
      Acts 2:38-41 = Brought together by Understanding

    How did God's purpose for scattering differ between the two groups?
      Genesis 9:1 = Scattered to fill the earth
      Acts 1:8 = Sent out by God to spread gospel

Closing Prayer

Copyright © 1997 by Kurt Rosenhagen

Use of this material is provided free of charge for use in personal or group Bible Study, no permission needed.
The author reserves all rights for use in published material or in uses where fees are involved.
For permission, or to provide your comments, insights and feedback, contact the author at:


Return to Bible Stories for Adults Home Page